Jamaica Observer / Just as we did in 2010 when 33 Chilean miners were rescued from a collapsed mine 2,300 feet underground after 69 days, we held our collective breaths as rescue workers yesterday successfully took the last of 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand. The 13 had gone into the cave on June 23 to explore it after a football training session and became trapped when it was flooded by monsoon rains.
Readers will recall that a team of Thai and international divers began the gruelling rescue effort on Sunday this week, and word from that country yesterday was that after the last four boys and their coach were brought to the surface, a medic and three Navy SEAL divers who had stayed for days with the boys exited the cave.
The world rejoiced on reading the Facebook post stating “Everyone is safe,” as many people, we are sure, were worried for the safety of the boys and the coach when news of their plight first emerged 18 days ago.
Indeed, those concerns grew after the authorities in Thailand suggested that the group would likely have to wait for four months before any attempt to get them out could be mounted, given that monsoon rains were expected to further flood the cave.
But, in what can only be described as a display of humanity, more than 1,000 people from a number of countries volunteered to help rescue the boys and their coach.
That, we believe, is an encouragement of the hope that mankind still places great value on the preservation of life, especially those of the young who will make up the next generation.
The unison with which the world community greeted the rescue was aptly described thus in a wire service report yesterday: “Cheers erupted from the dozens of volunteers and journalists awaiting news of whether the intricate and high-risk rescue mission had succeeded. Helicopters transporting the boys roared overhead. People on the street cheered and clapped when ambulances ferrying them on the last leg of their journey from the cave arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai city. Their joy and relief was echoed around the globe by the multitude of people who had watched the long ordeal in widely broadcast newscasts.”
Indeed, one man, Mr Payap Maiming, who helped provide food and necessities to the rescue workers and journalists, was reported as saying: “It’s really a miracle. It’s hope and faith that has brought us this success.”
Amidst the celebrations, though, we ask the world to spare a thought for Mr Saman Gunan, the former Thai navy diver who died last Friday when he ran out of oxygen while returning from a mission to provide the group with air tanks.
His was the ultimate sacrifice on what was a most dangerous journey, and we hope that he will be appropriately recognised by the Thai Government and the wider international community.
Jamaicans, we hold, can take valuable lessons from this experience as it brings to the fore the concept of communities helping people in need. It also demonstrates that when people unite for good they can achieve truly remarkable results.
Kudos to the Thai Government and all the people who, without prompting, volunteered to save these boys and their coach.